Alphabet Soup

Language and how we use it.
May 20 1998 3:30 AM

Alphabet Soup

A technological history of reading and writing.

(Continued from Page 1)

It is beyond me to chart the future byways of the digital revolution, but I'll venture one counterintuitive prediction: Electronic media will usher in a resurgence in the quality and value in handwriting. Signs of a renaissance of the handwritten word are here and there discernible. Most obviously, there is the proliferation of specialty shops for fountain pens and handmade paper. But it can also be seen, hauntingly, in the almost sacral reception given to Ronald Reagan's handwritten letter revealing his affliction with Alzheimer's disease. "Script's primary power," wrote Edmund Morris, Reagan's biographer, in a 1995 reflection on the letter, "is to convey the cursive flow of human thought, from brain to hand to pen to ink to eye--every waver, every loop, every character trembling with expression."

Advertisement

As handwriting becomes ever less a daily utilitarian workhorse it may well become ever more a cherished means of interpersonal transmission--for the sorts of messages that one sets aside to preserve (or pulls out to reread from one's intermammary sulcus). Some future Paul Saenger, perhaps in a book to be called When Hands Left the Keyboard, will, I hope, be able to tell the story of one more happy accident.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.